At Wrestle Kingdom 14, on the second night, Minoru Suzuki made a quite shocking appearance after Jon Moxley retained the IWGP US Heavyweight championship against Juice Robinson, challenging the two-time champion in the process.
In this article, I will be discussing why Suzuki should leave Osaka-Jo Hall with the US title. Ready ? Let’s take our towel off, give our meanest look the camera, and dive into this !
To start it all off, I want to bring some eyes back to a previous article I wrote about New Japan. It was about the company’s expansion in the United States, and how they could use the US title to help the expansion process. In that piece, I tackled two main points : The first one was the creation of a “Gaijin Quartet” featuring the likes of Jay White, Zack Sabre Jr, Juice Robinson and Will Ospreay, all gravitating around what is still so far, the “Gaijin belt” within New Japan. The other point was far more simple : Let Japanese wrestlers challenge for the title, and possibly even hold it for quite some time. At Wrestle Kingdom 14, the first part of that second point became a reality, as Minoru Suzuki stepped up to Jon Moxley, delivering the Gotch-Style Piledriver, making his intentions clear.
As the match has been made official for the New Beginning in Osaka event, we are closer than ever to witness the second part of my point coming to fruition, and it is now time to explain why Gedo should absolutely make it happen.
The first thing to consider, of course, is that Jon Moxley could very well retain his championship in Osaka. However, and this is where I will start, having Moxley retain against Suzuki may cause some issues in the long run. For instance, Moxley is, as far as we know, unable to perform for New Japan in the US, which is quite problematic if he is bound to hold the US title for more than a month. After all, New Japan has set up a variety of events in Florida, Georgia and even Tennessee for their New Beginning in USA tour, but at none of these events will American fans get to see the US champion, because he is simply not allowed to appear. Am I the only one to find this odd, as well as counterproductive regarding New Japan’s expansion in the country ?
I could even bring up AEW, and the fact that Moxley may very well end up as the new world champion there in a short while, which would limit his possibilities regarding New Japan bookings even more, as much as he wants to keep working in Japan. But, let’s not dive into that too much and keep the focus on New Japan affairs. As I just said, Moxley wants to keep wrestling for New Japan, but the real question to ask is whether or not he needs the US title to do that.
This is exactly where his Osaka opponent slides in. Minoru Suzuki is no ordinary opponent in more ways than one, and here we are not going to talk about his Murder Grandpa nickname given by the wrestling community. Suzuki is a star, a big international star. He has as beloved in Japan as he is in the USA, Australia or anywhere in Europe. The man has and brings more value than very few people within the New Japan roster, even at the age of 51. I am not going to list you his resume, you know how legendary the man is, just keep the value and popularity aspects in mind. Suzuki has not held any IWGP gold since Wrestling Hi-No-Kuni in 2018, where Tetsuya Naito reclaimed the IWGP Intercontinental championship, after Suzuki had destroyed Hiroshi Tanahashi to win the title in Sapporo… At New Beginning.
Approximately two years later, Suzuki gets the chance to once again win one of New Japan’s championships, one of the two singles championships he has yet to win. Suzuki adding his name to the list of US champions would bring instant value and prestige to the title, and you know Suzuki will treat the title as a prize deserving of his own worth, otherwise he would have never made the challenge, and would have taken a personal revenge on Moxley without caring for the title. Adding to that, in contrary to Moxley, Suzuki can appear wherever he wants, whenever he wants. New Japan could actually use their US champion in future tours around the USA, as well as having the US title show up more in Japan, just like when Jay White and Juice Robinson were champions.
Lastly, speaking of White and Robinson, let’s dive back into the “Gaijin quartet” idea I brought up a long while ago, especially one of its members in Zack Sabre Jr. In another piece I wrote which was dubbed “The twilight of Suzuki-Gun”, I brought up the idea of ZSJ taking leadership of the faction. The way to do it remains unclear, and who knows if it will ever happen, but let’s say it eventually does. Suzuki vs Zack is a match New Japan has never delivered so far, this is one of the matches the company is heavily protecting (we have seen members of the same colliding in the G1 for years, yet Suzuki and Zack never did), and there must be a reason for it. With Suzuki as US champion, a door opens for this match to happen. So far, Zack has been used as the standard regarding the British Heavyweight championship, which is essentially his title, but there’s going to be a time where Zack will HAVE to hold a different type of gold, IWGP gold, if New Japan indeed sees him as one of their top foreigners, which seems quite clear they do.
The point here being that, with Suzuki becoming IWGP US champion, you open the door to the possibility of skyrocketing ZSJ in another dimension in the long run, while giving one (last ?) well earned championship run to one of the most popular veterans in all of wrestling, after nearly two years of championship drought.